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Van Life On the Road: Slowing Down, Gaining Perspective and a Powerful Sense of Freedom

Elise Cook and her husband live in a 1972 Kombi van called Scout, slowly exploring Australia


Instagram: @elisecook


Q: What is a truth that you know for sure?

A: One thing I know to be true is that happiness is a choice. We make choices that lead to living happier, more fulfilling lives. Happiness doesn’t just come find us. Learning to live in the present moment, learning to let go of the past and stop worrying about the future, has been one of the biggest tools for me.

Q: How do you create magic?

A: I think magic moments are created whenever your heart feels alive and inspired. For me, this happens the most when I am connecting with the people I love. Sitting somewhere beautiful, always in nature or by the sea if possible, sharing food or a bottle of wine, and feeding my heart with rich conversations and big belly laughs. That’s my idea of magic.

Q: Do you have any life mantras?

A: My mantra is “It’s a good day to have a good day.” I try to start every day with this in mind.

Q: What does living a conscious life mean to you?

A: For me, it means living mindfully, slowing down, and leaning into the things that I know give me balance. It’s making a commitment to make time for the things that recharge my soul and keep my love-tank full. When I start feeling down or out of whack, I know it normally means I’m not meeting one of my needs. Living a conscious life means being aware of what your needs are and making a deliberate effort to meet them.

Q: What keeps you grounded as you travel? Inspired?

A: My husband! He is my heart’s home. He is where I can be my daggiest, my silliest, and full of faults, and still be loved fully. He brings me back down to earth when I’m flying away, and pulls me back up to the skies when I’m feeling low. We also have the most incredibly inspiring conversations, and they seem to always happen when we’re traveling. I think all the things we see and people we meet inspire us, but we help each other to realize those inspirations and then action them into our lives.

Q: What drives your creativity?

A: My soul craves adventure, and adventure inspires my sense of creativity like nothing else can. This is why I love life on the road—the constant sense of adventure, not knowing where you’ll be next, what you’ll see, or who you’ll meet. And then experiencing those things, and sharing them through photos or writing. Then, sometimes, taking little bits from here and there and recreating magic moments for people through the events that I throw.

Q: Any tips for traveling?

A: Try not to plan too much. Travel with an open mind and an open heart. I have always traveled like that, whether backpacking through Asia or Europe, or road tripping around Australia. It’s a wonderful thing to have the ability to be spontaneous, to be able to meet someone and think, “I like the sound of where they’ve just been, or where they’re going…” and then just go.

Q: Places you recommend.

A: East Coast Tasmania, Australia, for an epic coastal road trip, where the beaches are pristine and totally deserted, the scenery will make your eyes water, and you can pull over and camp just about anywhere without a worry. Croatian Islands. Base yourself on one of the islands, hire your own boat (it’s very cheap and, trust me, so much better than those package cruises), then spend your days exploring the islands and your nights feasting and drinking with the very friendly locals.

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